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Balancing the Grind with Sunandar, Head of Engineering at TruTrip

Sunandar, Head of Engineering at TruTrip, a platform combining travel technology with South East Asia’s travel ecosystem into a travel management solution for businesses of all sizes.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I started my career in a small IT consulting company as a Junior Developer.

Along the way, I gained experience in various industries including online media (worked 4 years for one of the biggest online media portals in Indonesia), e-commerce (5 years with OLX Indonesia and then joined a bootstrap company as a CTO to build a marketplace for out-of-home media).

Before joining TruTrip as Head of Engineering, I also had a short journey with a Logistics company. At TruTrip currently, I lead the engineering team located in Indonesia. 

2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

As a Muslim, I start my day every morning with prayers. Twice a week on weekdays, I do some cycling for an hour. Then, I accompany my kids and get them ready for school.

At 9 AM, I start my workday with a daily stand-up with the dev team and 15 minutes later with the product and UI/UX team. 

My day-to-day activity involves helping the team, checking on progress with their tasks, preparing any new feature from a technical perspective, and preparing and executing the release of new features. 

I usually end my workday at 5.30 PM. I spend some quality time with my kids and watch movies with my wife before heading to bed.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

Yes, at TruTrip, we work remotely which gives me more time and flexibility. Previously, I used to spend 1 to 2 hours commuting to the office (I live in a satellite city next to Jakarta).

Now, I can use that time to do something else like cycling before I start to work. We are also quite flexible in our day-to-day activities – if I need to pick up my kids from school or go to the bank I just need to tell the team that I will be away for a certain time.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

For me, work-life balance means I can spend time doing things outside of the office work whether it is a hobby, spending quality time with family or learning new things.

At TruTrip, we always try to complete our work within our working hours or days, so people can enjoy their weekends. We also have an unlimited leave policy which helps us if we need some time to refresh or spend time with family.

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

In a remote working environment, I think it’s a little bit easier to achieve a work-life balance. I started to routinely do my cycling activity. Previously, I only cycled on weekends. And since I’m working from home, I eat more healthy meals home-cooked by my wife. 

I don’t miss the hassle of commuting by train or getting stuck in traffic, but sometimes I do miss having coffee breaks with my colleagues.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

I follow topics related to sports, programming, technology, productivity, and travel on Medium. Sometimes, it can be quite interesting and fun to read the recommended articles. 

Some books that have helped me as a software developer include Clean Code by Robert Cecil Martin and Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by J. J. Sutherland.

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

For now, online shopping and ride-hailing apps are the ones that I can’t live without. The convenience of shopping from home, and ordering food or coffee using ride-hailing apps is tough to beat.

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be? 

Benjamin Hoskins and Nurendrantoro, the former CTOs at OLX Indonesia. They gave me an opportunity to step up in my career before I start my managerial career.  But reading my own interviews in the next 10 or 20 years will be interesting too.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

From my perspective, I think work-life balance is about prioritisation. It is about getting the job done and living life outside of work too. We need to make sure each part has its own portion in our life. In circumstances where our job takes up most of our time, we need to know when to pull away, take breaks and get refreshed. Spending some quality time for ourselves and our family is important.

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About Author

Balance the Grind is a work-life balance publication on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.